Wednesday, October 28, 2009

NCLB Reauthorization?

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has called for a speedy re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), branded the "No Child Left Behind" law (NCLB) by the Bush administration.  Since expiring in 2007, NCLB has continued under a series of temporary extensions.  Some of NCLB practices are so controversial that major education groups have opposed the extension and Congress has been unable to assemble a majority to pass it.  But "re-authorization can't wait," Duncan said recently, and he has pledged to get Congress to enact a new education law in 2010.
Most observers assume that the emphases placed in the current debate over Race to the Top will continue in the administration proposals for re-authorizing NCLB. See Race to the Top posts on this blog.
Major recent pieces on NCLB and resources: Riches Rothstein, Prospects for NCLB.
Forum on Educational Accountability:
Fair Test.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bill Gates is wrong and manipulative

The Sacramento Bee has an article today from the Associated Press on Bill Gates and school reform.
Here the article is in the Washington Post 
Here is a response to this often quoted mantra.

If you wish to fix the schools, you need to start by accurately describing the problem.  Bill Gates does not. He claims, “ It is no secret that the U.S. education system is failing.”   It is not only not a secret, it is also not accurate.
Well over 50% of U.S. schools are doing quite well- even with  the draconian cuts in school budgets.
There is a group of schools where students are failing at disgraceful rates- and these schools are almost all in poverty areas.  The late Gerald Bracey pointed out that U.S. schools with less than 25 percent of their students in poverty  outscore all other countries in math and science.
U.S.  children only fall below the international average when 75 percent or more of the students in a school live in poverty.  The political economy of the U.S. creates  the highest level of childhood poverty of industrialized countries and in the process creates school failure.
The Gates assertion  is a part of the new age corporate agenda to blame the schools and teachers for the crisis created by the corporate  domination of our economy and politics.
            For an alternative see

Duane Campbell
Prof. of Education (Emeritus)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Trumka: Showdown in Chicago

Campaign for America's Future

I'm going to Chicago next week for the American Bankers
Association meeting. Oddly, I haven't been invited to
the Roaring '20's dance party I hear they're having.

Why wouldn't they celebrate the era of wild money and
hot times (which slid into the Great Depression)? After
all, the bankers are doing well these days.

They're doing well because after financial institutions
caused the global economic crisis, we bailed them out,
to the tune of some $700 billion.

Now they're in good enough shape to pay the suits $7
billion in bonuses for driving working families and our
economy to our knees--to the verge of a second full-
fledged depression.

Things might be turning around for the bankers, but for
the rest of us, unemployment heads toward 10 percent and
home foreclosures continue to devastate families and
communities. Working families have lost health care,
pensions and savings--and in exchange we've gotten
predatory lending, outrageous overdraft fees and sky-
high credit card interest rates.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The problem is poverty, Not lack of Standards

Published in Print: October 21, 2009
Education Week

The Problem Is Poverty, Not a Lack of Standards
To the Editor:
"Standards Aren't Enough," the recent Commentary by Susan H. Fuhrman, Lauren Resnick, and Lorrie Shepard (Oct. 14, 2009), implies that the United States’ lack of clear and uniform standards is the reason other countries do better on international tests of math and science. It also implies that in the absence of externally imposed and detailed standards, American teachers do not know how to help students make progress.
Gerald W. Bracey, in his book Education Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality, points out that U.S. schools with less than 25 percent of their enrollments made up of children in poverty outscore all other countries in math and science. U.S. children only fall below the international average when 75 percent or more of the students in a school live in poverty. Studies also confirm that hunger, poor diet, and a lack of reading material seriously affect academic performance. The United States has the highest level of childhood poverty of industrialized countries.
The fact that American students not in poverty do so well strongly suggests that, in general, American educators know what they are doing. The problem is not lack of standards, the problem is poverty.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
Rossier School of Education
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, Calif.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Safety Nets for the Rich

by Bob Herbert Op-Ed Columnist
New York Times - October 20, 2009

The headlines that ran side by side on the front page
of Saturday's New York Times summed up, inadvertently,
the terrible fix that we've allowed our country to fall

The lead headline, in the upper right-hand corner,
said: "U.S. Deficit Rises to $1.4 Trillion; Biggest
Since '45."

The headline next to it said: "Bailout Helps Revive
Banks, And Bonuses."

We've spent the last few decades shoveling money at the
rich like there was no tomorrow. We abandoned the poor,
put an economic stranglehold on the middle class and
all but bankrupted the federal government - while
giving the banks and megacorporations and the rest of
the swells at the top of the economic pyramid just
about everything they've wanted.

Read the entire piece;

The Safety Net and the Great Recession

The safety net and the recession 
By Lawrence Mishel 
October 8, 2009

"Some claim somehow that the recovery package isn't working by simply pointing to continued job losses. I consider this peculiar, especially from those who favored the policies that actually caused the recession to begin with," EPI President Lawrence Mishel said in testimony to Congress on October 8, where he proposed a five-part strategy for creating and preserving jobs, and stressed that the causes of today’s high unemployment pre-date President Obama.
"I consider President Obama to be in the situation of having inherited a burning apartment building. He proceeded to gather all the available fire trucks and douse the fires in half the floors. Yet his critics complain that the other floors are still on fire. Even worse, those critics are the ones who started the fire. And they want to withdraw the fire trucks."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Reform the California Constitution ?

That California government is in a financial crisis is not news – but it is in  crisis.  And, that only 13% of Californians think that the legislature – both Republican and Democrats are doing a good job, indicates a that an opportunity exists to throw the baby out with the bath water.  Or, as Rahm Emanuel says, “don’t allow a good crisis to go to waste.”
At an interesting conference, “Getting to Reform: Avenues to Constitutional Change in California,” on October 14, at the Sacramento Convention Center,  Prof. Kimberly Nalder, an associate professor of Government  at Sacramento State said California voters are like a person  who contracts with a personal trainer to lose weight, then says, “but I don’t want to do any exercise and I don’t want to go on a diet.”  and then blames the trainer for not producing results.  The conference was sponsored by the Center for California Studies at CSU-Sacramento and others. 
New Field Poll figures released Wednesday Oct.14, at the  conference show that voters think the state needs fundamental reform. And, majorities would favor a constitutional convention to propose revisions.
However, they  tend to oppose commonly discussed changes such as reducing the two-thirds voting threshold to pass a state budget or raise taxes, modifying or eliminating term limits and altering the state tax system.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It is time for economic reform : Moyers

It is time for economic justice.  Bill Moyers
Capitalism: a Love Story


I sat in a theater packed with passionate moviegoers, every one of them seemingly aghast at the Wall Street skullduggery exposed by Michael Moore in his latest film. It's called 'Capitalism: A Love Story.' Here's an excerpt:

MICHAEL MOORE: We're here to get the money back for the American People. Do you think it's too harsh to call what has happened here a coup d'état? A financial coup d'état?

MARCY KAPTUR: That's, no. Because I think that's what's happened. Um, a financial coup d'état?
Just over a year after economic calamity brought promises of reform from Washington, has Wall Street really changed? Former International Monetary Fund chief economist Simon Johnson and US Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) report on the state of the economy.

Report on the Economic Crisis Forum -Sacramento

The Economic Crisis, The Budget & The University

 A forum on  the economic crisis and the cutbacks at the university was held  Oct.13,2009. At  Sacramento State University  for over  120 students, faculty, and community members, as a part of   CFA’s week of action against the  university budget cuts, furloughs and lay offs.

Speaking representing  the Sacramento Chapter of  Democratic Socialists of America  in the forum  Dr. Duane Campbell argued political actions taken and not taken in the next 12 months may well determine the structure of our economy, our health care system, and our unions for the next two decades.  He urged participants to see the new film, Capitalism: a Love Story by Michael Moore.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Economic Crisis and the University: Forum Oct. 13

Forum on the Economic Crisis:

The Economic Crisis, The Budget &

The University

Be a part of the solution.

Panelists: Prof Paul Burke, Co-Chair Sac. Progressive Alliance; Dr. Duane Campbell, Democratic Socialists of America; Sandra Folger, Grad Student; Kristina Lee, Pres. Campus Prog. Alliance; Kevin Wehr, Pres. CFA.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

1:30pm - 3pm

Orchard Room, CSUS University Union

Use regional transit or buy a one day parking pass.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story

Go see, Capitalism: a Love Story written and directed by Michael Moore.
It is great-and at times sad.
Meanwhile.  Barack Obama receives the Noble Peace Prize.
The Sacramento Bee headline writer editorializes,  Obama Acclaimed for Aims.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Why no reform of financial mess? Moyers

Academic pomposity

Spare CSU a Phoenix Takeover

William Tierney's editorial is astonishing for its elitism.

 Safely ensconced in his perch as a USC professor, Tierney argues that California would benefit from Phoenix University's "acquisition of the CSU system." Tierney sees the state's fiscal crisis as an opportunity to reward a failed private sector, which has pushed California's unemployment rate to over 12 percent, by handing over the CSU system to the profiteers at Phoenix University.  Tierney concedes that Phoenix has "little concern for academic freedom," "lacks transparency and resists any meaningful regulatory oversight," and "would likely increase student indebtedness."

Still, he advocates privatizing a public higher education system that has served the state admirably for over 60 years because "Phoenix is a proven generator of trained graduates ready to enter the work force."  And CSU graduates aren't?  Tierney would rather dismantle a public good than call for renewed public investment in higher education (and he's a "professor of higher education").

The subtext of Tierney's drab editorial is that he'll continue to teach the affluent kids at USC while the sons and daughters of working-class Californians are fed a terrible fast-food education from a Phoenix-style diploma mill.

Joseph A. Palermo
Associate Professor of History
CSU, Sacramento
The Sacramento Bee
October 7, 2009

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

How the bankers stole our prosperity

How the bankers did it.
The best way to rob a bank is to own one.

These two authors are among the few who can write about economics in a clear way. Here they describe how the bankers robbed the economy and caused the current recession.

Good Billions After Bad

By Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele
Vanity Fair
October 2009

Just inside the entrance to the U.S. Treasury, on the
other side of a forbidding array of guard stations and
scanners that control access to the Greek Revival
building, lies one of the most beautiful interior
spaces in all of Washington. Ornate bronze doors open
inward to a two-story-high chamber. Chandeliers line
the coffered ceiling, casting a soft glow on the marble
walls and richly inlaid marble floor. In this room,
starting in 1869 and for many decades thereafter, the
U.S. government conducted many of its financial
transactions. Bags of gold, silver, and paper currency
arrived here by horse-drawn vans and were carted
upstairs to the vaults. On the busy trading floor,
Treasury clerks supplied commercial banks with coins
and currency, exchanged old bills for new, cashed
checks, redeemed savings bonds, and took in government
receipts. In those days, anyone could observe all this
activity firsthand-could actually witness the
government and the nation's bankers doing business. The
public space where this occurred became known as the
Cash Room.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Politicians fail our schools

   No part of society remains healthy when the other parts are sick. Violence and drug abuse in one part of the community endanger us all. Even in the suburbs, runaway and suicide rates of teens have reached epidemic proportions. The conservative strategy of withdrawing into the suburbs and funding more prisons  worked only until gangs, violence, and drug abuse appeared there, too.

In the bottom tier of our society—the semipermanent poverty areas—the decline in good-paying jobs has substantially damaged family life. Families are divided and some are destroyed by crime, drugs, health crises, divorce, abandonment, and permanent underemployment.

  But political leaders and writers can pretend that we have a classless society. They are able to sell this ideological position because we are constantly taught in school that we live in a classless society and benefit from a classless school system. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 Children bring their crises to school each day (Kozol, 2005). Poor and middle-class children mix in some schools. The deterioration of life opportunities among the poor adds to a deterioration of schools. Some students bring to school the same disorder, crime, and gang violence they see in their neighborhoods. Dealing with these problems inevitably takes away from safety and  instructional time. Tax cuts and the demand to spend extra funds on school security, plus the need for remediation of basic skills, stress many urban school budgets.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Budget Woes, school reform collide

 In an interesting article, “ Budget Woes, school reform collide.” By Diane Lambert in the Sacramento Bee of Oct. 1,2009, the writer gets to the point.  Many, including this writer, think that school reform efforts are a political  fraud when you take $6.1 Billion from the schools. 
In the article State Superintendent O’Connell says, “Cuts have been devastating and schools have been hustling to keep the lights on.”   “Painful decision have had to be made because education is not a priority.”   The federal stimulus, “does not come close to making up for the massive cutbacks imposed on schools.”
Amen. Brother.
Then,  O’Connell says,  “ California schools must continue to improve test scores and narrow the achievement gap, despite the diminishing budget.”
Huh?  Who?
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